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Sempre — The Unnamed Sequel Has a Name!

We’ve been fans of JM Darhower and her powerful story Sempre since, well, forever…

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and it’s been worth it!

Now, we know we’re still a relatively young blog,

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but that never stops us from thinking big!

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Like THIS big…

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So, when JM Darhower tweeted that she needed one more book blog to announce the official title of the sequel to Sempre, Chick kitt happened to be on twitter and politely, but seriously, DM’d her to express interest on behalf of this blog.

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A few hours later, Chick Lisa saw the call from JM while she was out and was a little more desperate in her response…

I volunteer!

When we chicks didn’t hear back right away, we thought we’d missed out! We may or may not have done a little of this…

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An email came from JM the following day saying that we were in. There was definitely a whole lot of this going on…

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Now that we have the go-ahead…

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let’s move on to the exciting announcement!

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As the author announced here, the rights to Sempre and The Unnamed Sequel (Sempre: Redemption) were sold to Simon & Schuster. They are treating it as a fresh acquisition, which is why both books are getting the complete treatment (editing, cover, promo, etc.).

*SPOILER ALERT*

From the highly anticipated sequel…

Sempre: Redemption

J.M. Darhower

***Content may be altered or omitted from the final product***

EXCERPT:

The black Mazda RX-8 sped along the worn gravel road, twisting and turning as it penetrated deeper into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Haven clutched onto the passenger seat as the car haphazardly weaved through the dense forest.

“Are we lost?” she asked hesitantly as she stared at her boyfriend. Carmine was slouched in the driver’s seat, fiddling with the radio. Sunglasses shielded his eyes from her, so she couldn’t tell if he was paying any attention to the road.

“No.”

Haven glanced out the windshield, squinting from the early morning sunshine. Things looked the same in every direction-nothing but endless trees surrounding them. How could he know? “Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

Stubborn. “Where are we going?”

“You’ll see.”

Shaking her head, Haven surveyed the area. At first it appeared to be nothing unusual, a small gap in the trees with a cabin set a few yards away, until she spotted the faded white sign in the distance. Landell Christmas Tree Farm, it said in green hand-painted letters.

Although it felt as if time had stopped for the two of them, the calendar told a different story. It was the 23rd of December already, a month since they’d returned to the small North Carolina town of Durante in an attempt to get back to their lives… in an attempt to regain a bit of normalcy and piece together their relationship. It had been a struggle, dealing with the fallout of her kidnapping, but they took it day-by-day.

Together, the two of them set out through the tree farm.

“How about this one?” she asked after a while, stopping in front of a tree a few inches taller than her. “Do you like it?”

Carmine hardly even looked. “It’s too bare.”

Haven’s brow furrowed, unsure as to what he was talking about. The branches appeared full to her. “So finicky.”

“Whatever,” he muttered. “Do you see any others?”

“Uh…” She glanced around, randomly motioning toward another tree a few feet away. “What about that one?”

Carmine scanned it. “Perfect.”

Letting go of her hand, Carmine studied the tree, deciding how to go about taking it down. Haven watched him for a moment and burst into laughter when he took his first swing. It barely even sliced the thick bark.

Carmine groaned. “What’s so funny?”

“This is going to take you all day,” she said. “We should’ve just picked one that was already chopped down.”

“That’s cheating,” he said. “Just because it’s the easy way doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Sometimes it’s better to put in the work.”

He whacked the trunk repeatedly, the blade eventually cutting through the wood. Despite the cold temperatures, by the time the tree tilted, Carmine was huffing and drenched with sweat. It gathered along his forehead, running down the side of his face and dripping from his chiseled jaw. Haven watched him struggle in silence, a familiar pang of guilt deep down inside of her gut as she was reminded of what he’d done.

This boy-this stubborn, selfless, stupid boy-had given himself to the Mafia. He’d handed control of his future over to the men they hated most in exchange for her life. For her safety. And he’d done it so easily, so quickly, like there wasn’t even a choice at all… like making this sacrifice for her came just as naturally as breathing.

The act had left him fractured, and Haven was still trying to come to grips with the fact that it may be a long time before he was whole again. She was grateful to be alive, picking out a Christmas tree with the boy she loved, but she was also angry. Not at him-not anymore. That anger had been unfounded. She was mad at herself now, and at the universe, because no matter what she did, she couldn’t help Carmine.

Once again in her life, Haven felt powerless.

So she stood by silently, continuing to watch, terrified of looking him in the eyes one day and seeing regret. Frightened that someday, he’d turn to her, and she’d see her worst fear playing out in his face: that she hadn’t been worth it.

(A/N: This —> This boy-this stubborn, selfless, stupid boy… *flails* And just like that, we’re transported back “there.” Is it December yet?!)

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As if that’s not enough, each of the four participating blogs has a character reveal for fans!

Recognize this beautiful man?

Carrado

Redemption…
because sometimes, no matter the consequences,
a man has to take risks to protect the ones he loves.

From Corrado…

The end justifies the means: the belief that it’s okay to do immoral things as long as it’s for a good cause. Not everyone agrees with the concept, but I certainly do.

It doesn’t matter what I did along the way—what I stole, which lies I told, who I annihilated—as long as I had a good reason to do it all. And protecting my family… honoring my family… is the only reason I’ve ever had for anything.

Personally, I can’t think of a better reason than that.

I don’t particularly like some of the things I’ve done, and I’m certainly not proud of a lot of it. There’s no room for pride in the life of a man like me. I did it because I had to do it. It’s as simple as that. And if I could go back and relive my life, I’d make all the same choices all over again.

Not to say I don’t feel any remorse, because I do, but wallowing in regret is pointless. The end justifies the means. And the end… well… all I can say is that when the end comes, I’ll hold my head high as long as I did everything I could for my family.

Am I a bad man? I’m sure some people think so. Maybe even you do, but it doesn’t matter. Opinions mean nothing. I live my life by facts. And the fact of the matter is, I may not live to see tomorrow, but I’m alive today. And as long as my heart’s still beating, I’ll fight with everything left in me to do what I have to do.

 For a message from Carmine, visit Aestas Book Blog (here).
For a message from Haven, visit Bookish Temptations (here).
For a message from Vincent, visit Forever 17 Books (here)

We know you’re as excited as we are if you’re here reading this. Thanks for stopping by. Special thanks to JM Darhower and Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books for letting us take part in the reveal.

And so it is that this story about sacrifice… death… love… freedom… this story about forever… continues. And we will continue to be fans… sempre!

Social Media Links for J.M. Darhower

Facebook Goodreads Tumblr Twitter Website

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Review of Entwined with You by Sylvia Day

“Crossfire.”

Seriously. Who doesn’t melt when Gideon says that to Eva?

The worldwide phenomenon continues as Eva and Gideon face the demons of their pasts, and accept the consequences of their obsessive desires…

From the moment I first met Gideon Cross, I recognized something in him that I needed. Something I couldn’t resist. I also saw the dangerous and damaged soul inside–so much like my own. I was drawn to it. I needed him as surely as I needed my heart to beat.

No one knows how much he risked for me. How much I’d been threatened, or just how dark and desperate the shadow of our pasts would become.

Entwined by our secrets, we tried to defy the odds. We made our own rules and surrendered completely to the exquisite power of possession…

Like millions of readers, I couldn’t wait to dive back into Gideon and Eva’s world…a world of intense sex and equally intense love. We were honored to receive an ARC but when it arrived just two days prior to the book’s debut date, I couldn’t keep myself from waiting to buy the audiobook. I am an audiobook junkie. As some of you know, it can be distracting when there is only one narrator reading both genders. Not true with Jill Redfield, the narrator of the Crossfire series. She is amazing. I’m sure I would have loved Bared to You had I read it as a paperback, but Ms. Redfield’s narration took it to a whole new level. So if you’re missing Gideon and are one of those people who likes to reread their favorite books, do yourself a favor and give the audiobooks a try at Audible. You can have Gideon in the car, at work, and at home. And who doesn’t want that? 😉 (A/N: Sylvia Day and Audible announced today that Jill Redfield will continue narrating Sylvia’s SciFi/Fantasy series, Marked, with the new Eve of Destruction.)

Entwined with You has Gideon and Eva dealing with the aftermath of Gideon’s protective decision in ways they expect and don’t expect. Their trust issues are also put to the test…again. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I am frustrated that Eva hasn’t made a certain rocker pack up his guitar case and hit the road permanently. And don’t even get me started on Gideon enabling Corrinne! Or Cary’s turn of events. Oh, Cary. I love you to pieces, but I want to smack you up side the head right now. And, of course, I’m worried about poor Megumi.

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As always, Sylvia has left us wanting more…more answers, more smexy time, and more hope that Gideon and Eva will finally get their HEA. With two more books left in the series, I think we will get it all.

Social Media Links for Sylvia Day

Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest Twitter | Website | YouTube

Be sure and check out Sylvia’s website to learn about her upcoming appearances and sign up for her newsletter. You won’t want to miss out on exciting news like “the Crossfire series has been optioned by Lionsgate and the property is in the early stages of development.”

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Interview with Jada D’Lee Designs

We’ve already said that one of the reasons we started this site was to follow the journey of some of our favorite fanfiction stories as they enter publication and, for a lucky few, eventually get turned into movies. But as you will see with Jada, there’s more to the journey of these stories than just the author’s. Jada’s love for fanfiction has inspired her to help bring the stories to life via visuals, first in the form of blinkies, which are 15 seconds of a mini-movie, and now with beautiful book covers. Being able to turn her love for her favorite stories into a business of designing covers is a huge success story in the fics to flicks journey in our book!

Thanks for joining us, Jada! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, two years ago I was a wife and Stay at Home Mom and now I’m still doing that, but I also design book covers and book trailers/blinkies. Really makes for interesting conversations with other moms at the playground, I’ll tell you that! It’s funny how everyone just suddenly gets quiet when the words “I design book covers for romance & erotic novels” comes out of your mouth. Come to think of it, those words bring silence every time I say them: the bank, the school, the neighbors…*shrugs* I guess it’s not what you expect a mommy in a cardigan sweater to say. LOL!

How did you first get started doing fanfiction blinkies/gifs?

I became a fan of fanfiction, and it was a wonderful escape for me to get lost in the characters. A friend of mine started writing, and she asked if I could figure out how to make an animated gif, aka blinkie, to advertise her story on fansites. I had no idea how to do that! Luckily, Google is your friend, and before I knew it, I was making these gifs not only for my friends, but for authors whose stories I was crazy about, as well. And it felt good to give back to those authors. It was the least I could do!

What software program do you use, and do you have any tips for people interested in making their own blinkies/gifs?

Animation Shop is a great program for blinkies/gifs because there’s a great amount of effects to play with. If you’re doing a book trailer, it’s good, as well, to use with movie making programs. I do like to make sure that all of the trailers I make are small enough to be in blinkie form as well though.

Speaking of trailers, you did one for Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James. What was the creative process that went into making it?

One of the things I loved about the Fifty Shades book trailer was the fact that it was a scene, not a description of the book. For me, I felt that it would make a much larger impact to spark the reader’s curiosity. It was also a challenge to show the characters, without actually showing them. With the movie being made, we didn’t want to put a face to these characters. However, I still needed to bring in their personalities. Using dialogue was the key. Another challenge was the Red Room of Pain, how to present it along with the shock Ana has when she sees it. At first, we had photos of the actual items in the room, but it lacked the impact you get when reading the book. In the end, we decided that showing activities that could take place in the room worked much better.

I hope I captured the flow and feel of the book. The trailer was a blast to make! Going from the reality of calm black and white, then jumping to the fast paced, rolling reds to show the difference between the two sides of Christian’s world: the one on the outside of that door and the one on the inside of it. (A/N: She captured it perfectly! Watch here.)

As mentioned, you now design book covers. When did that journey begin, and where do you see it taking you?

When S.L. Scott decided to publish her first book Naturally, Charlie about a year ago, she wanted me to make her cover because she was already a fan of my fanfiction artwork. I was beyond honored, being a fan of hers, and it really was a great opportunity for me. I figured that if it didn’t work out, at least I tried. Now, my portfolio just keeps growing and growing, and just when I think it’s going to slow down, it picks right up again! So I’m really grateful to her for believing in me.

I don’t know where this ride will take me, so for now I’m just enjoying it. Hopefully, it will lead to more work, but even if it only leads to great friendships, I’d be happy with that! If I’ve learned one thing in the past 5 years, it’s that there’s some seriously talented women in this world who can write, edit, make artwork, etc., for some incredible stories. I just feel blessed to be a part of it. It’s been amazing.

How can others get in touch with you to use your book cover services?

I have a Facebook page (here) and if anyone is interested in working with me, feel free to contact me there. I really don’t have a certain ‘style’ of covers, so I’m pretty open to all ideas!

Which of your most recent book covers turned out even better than you expected?

The cover for Animate Me by Ruth Clampett was the one I was the most nervous about. I made so many mock-ups of that cover! But each time, I’d look at the hands and the cup with the design, and it just didn’t look right. It wasn’t until I just dropped back down to the basics and simply put the title on the cup that it all came together. Even then, I was nervous because it was so different. But in the end? I’ve received more compliments over that cover than I could ever imagine! It was a great surprise and looking back, it was worth the risk. Plus, Ruth and I had a lot of fun working on it, and I think that shows as well!

The author, Ruth, was kind enough to talk to us about working with Jada and to share her reaction to the cover.

When I first started seeing Jada’s work with other writers, I dreamed of working with her. I’ve been an art director for years, and I’ve always loved her design sense. But her talent goes beyond that for me. She has a true love of stories and characters that is reflected in her work. Her approach is always sensitive to the writer and the work itself, not just putting her own design stamp on everything. She listens and works with the author while still bringing her talent and special touch to every project. She also supports and encourages us with our writing and promoting efforts long after her work is done. Jada and I work really well together. She’s not just extremely creative, but enthusiastic as well, which brings a special energy to the process. I came to her with a pretty clear idea for what I wanted with the Animate Me cover, but she kept pushing to make it better. The final graphics of the title ended up being the biggest challenge, and she wouldn’t give up until we had it right. I’ll never forget the moment she came up with the final solution and sent it to me. I opened up the jpeg and fell in love…then cried tears of joy. Through it all Jada has become not just a valued designer to me, but a dear friend as well. (A/N: The cover is adorable, as is the story!)

What is one of your all-time favorite book covers that inspires you when you are designing?

I gotta be honest. What inspires me the most when doing covers are movie posters for romantic comedies! I think it’s because in the back of my mind, I’m hoping all these books get made into movies someday, because they’re all so darn good! Wouldn’t that be fantastic?! I think so…*smiles* (A/N: We couldn’t agree more!)

Social Media Links for Jada D’Lee Designs

Facebook Pinterest Twitter

Thanks for spending time with us, Jada. We thank you for your contributions to authors and readers and look forward to watching your career grow!

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Down To You and Up To Me Reviews

“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn to the last page and feel a little as though you’ve lost a friend.” 

How to handle The Bad Boys: A Good Girl’s guide to enjoying them…completely

Cash and Nash

Recently, while finding myself immobile with a lot of time on my hands, I was searching for something good to read on my Kindle and discovered a series by M. Leighton. She has grouped these books as “The Bad Boys” series. The series’ name is based on two brothers–Cash and Nash Davenport–gorgeous, perfect identical twins.

My first piece of advice if you are new to this series is to do yourself a solid and buy both books. I say this to you for two reasons, the first being that you most definitely will not be done with the twins when the first book ends. The second reason? Well, you’ll need to read the first book to find out the second reason.

**Minor Spoilers Ahead**

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This book is told from three sides, the first two by each of the twins, Cash and Nash, and then there is Olivia–the lucky, Olivia.

Olivia, who in the opening pages of Down to You, finds herself face to face with, as she describes them, “the most incredibly handsome guy (she thinks) she has ever seen.” While at her best friend’s bachelorette party, Olivia is asked to step up and take over the duties of the blushing bride-to-be when the evening’s entertainment arrives. Olivia does so, in the name of bonds of friendship, and approaches the “effing gorgeous” man who is watching her with full-on raised eyebrow and challenging smirk. As the party goers’ demands become louder, Olivia must muster up the courage to strip the stripper all the while he continues to challenge her with his smirk.

As I read these first few pages, I knew the following to be true…I had never wished my name was Olivia more in my life! Even after the real stripper enters the scene and she finds out she has just removed the shirt of the club owner, I still wished I could be her.

Cut to the next day…and one very hungover Olivia…and throw in one bitchy, uptight roommate who also happens to be Olivia’s rich cousin. When the roommate’s absolutely gorgeous new boyfriend shows up, who just happens to bring Olivia up short when she sees him because of his strikingly identical appearance to the man she attempted to undress the previous night, Olivia can’t get out of the room fast enough. But then her roommate tells her that her boyfriend, Nash, is a twin.

The funny thing is, both brothers seem to have a strong attraction to Olivia, and poor Olivia finds herself with a difficult decision to make. One brother is the perfect guy for her, the good guy with a law degree and budding career with Atlanta’s largest law firm. He’s sweet, polite, and perfect…except for the fact that he is the one dating Olivia’s cousin.

The other brother, Cash, is the gorgeous bad boy she always goes for–and definitely wants. She knows she should resist him, but she can’t stay away from him, especially after she starts working as a bartender at his club. And I have six words to say on that little twist…body shot as a job interview.  (*raises hand* Sign me up!)

Complicated, right? Yeah, now throw in a father in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, the mob, and some ledgers the mob wants back, and you’ve got quite the story! Not to mention some pretty schmexy, schmexy, schmexy times, including one morning full of questions–not the least of which might be “Which twin did I sleep with?”

And we haven’t even talked about a major twist in the story!

I found myself cheering hard for bad boy Cash but, admittedly, I’ve always had a soft spot for the self-assured bad boy type–the one who hopefully has a heart of gold that you would see under it all if you could just get close enough.

Yes, Nash is sweet and just as hot as his twin, but I am a sucker for the underdog. And call me a little nutty, but he has a girlfriend so he shouldn’t really be up for grabs.

Olivia makes her choice…but not without a lot of heartache, tears, running away, being found…and her decision ends up being easier than she thinks, one that just might get her the best of both worlds.

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Onto the sequel…

Up to Me new cover

The sequel picks up where the first book left off, keeping the reader hooked!

Olivia is deliriously happy with her choice, and life is perfect…for about five seconds! That’s when the past of the twins’ father [Remember the man who is in prison for a murder he didn’t commit?] closes in on the happy couple.

And if that isn’t enough trouble, Olivia’s cousin/roommate returns from a business trip and throws a wrench into Olivia’s new love life.

Olivia’s twin of choice believes the best way to deal with it all…and get his life with Olivia back…is to give them (the mob) what they want, but his father convinces him to follow their original plan.

This book brings much more danger into the lives of our young lovers and a kidnapping! And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the author throws in one more twist…the twist that makes the story just perfect!

Up to Me is loaded with action, intrigue, a few more really good-looking men, and plenty of schmexy! And when you reach the end of the roller coaster, there is a teaser for a third book, which is due out September 2013.

Read synopsis and preorder book #3 here!

Everything for Us

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I really loved these books, so much so in fact that I read them both twice before writing this review! The best books, as the top of the page says, are the ones that when they end, you feel like you are saying goodbye to a friend. I’m relieved to know that my friends will be back this fall!

I would love to see this story made into a movie! I think the books combined could be turned into one steamy, action-packed film in the hands of the right screenwriter. *silent prayer*

Do yourself a favor. Pick up these books, find yourself a quiet corner, and enjoy a few hours with Cash and Nash Davenport! Sure you have a ‘to-do list’ waiting for you but…trust me…these twins will totally make those hours spent reading worth it. And don’t say that I didn’t warn you. You’ll probably be wishing your name was Oliviatoo!

Michelle Leighton

Social Media Links for M. Leighton

Facebook | Twitter | Website

You can also listen to two Seattle WAVE Radio interviews Michelle did with our friend Lori Ness here and here. Michelle even discusses the possibility of a fourth book in The Bad Boys series in 2014. To follow Lori: @iguestinfonorthwestprime.com)

chick yellow (Kelly)

Paige Turner